Dems: Democrats call on President Obama and CMS to reject Branstad’s Medicaid privatization

January 27, 2016

Every Democratic member of the Iowa Senate signed a letter today asking President Obama and other key federal officials to end Governor Branstad’s disorganized push to privatize Medicaid services in Iowa.

“Unfortunately,  everything that we have seen and heard in the past month tells us that if CMS allows  the Branstad/Reynolds Administration to fully implement Medicaid privatization on March 1,  the health and wellbeing of more than 560,000 Iowans would be seriously at risk,” states the letter signed by 26 Democratic State Senators.

After outlining numerous concerns expressed by Medicaid recipients and health care providers, the Senators wrote:

“For all these reasons, we are calling today for you to deny Iowa’s application to establish a statewide private managed care system for Medicaid.”

“When facing overwhelming health care challenges, Iowa families must be able to count on the Medicaid safety net, “said Senator Liz Mathis of Robins, chair of the Senate Human Resources Committee. “Families depending on Medicaid have sounded the alarm. They still can’t get answers or timely responses.  The repeated promises and reassurances of the Branstad Administration are not being kept.”

In December, after an extensive review, the Director of the federal Center for Medicaid Services Vikki Wachino wrote that Governor Branstad’s privatization proposal had failed to meet requirements for “high quality, accessible care to Medicaid beneficiaries” and that a “transition on January 1 would risk serious disruptions in care for Iowa Medicaid beneficiaries.” Federal officials delayed implementation until at least March 1.

“I haven’t seen much progress,” said Senator Amanda Ragan of Mason City, co-chair of the Health and Human Services Budget Subcommittee. “The closer we look, the more problems we see.  Too many Iowans already have difficulty accessing health care services.  Iowa health care providers warn us that increased administrative costs and cuts in the rates paid for services will make it hard for Iowans to get quality, local health care services.”

In their letter, the Senators said they are still hearing complaints from constituents daily about problems that include:

  • Continued mass confusion regarding communications from IME
  • Lack of answers to basic questions from IME and MCOs
  • Delayed responses from IME and MCOs
  • Fluctuating savings projections
  • Providers, large and small, all across the state, reporting they will be going out of business due to low rates and lack of willingness to negotiate
  • Families in chaos and turmoil

To replace the Governor’s privatization proposal, the legislators proposed a return to Iowa’s previous focus on rewarding improved patient outcomes, increasing access to care, and delivery efficiencies.

“Governor Branstad took one of the nation’s best Medicaid systems and created an unworkable mess that is certain only to funnel dollars to out-of-state corporations,” said Mathis.  “Iowa’s health care safety must be repaired and made strong again.”

The letter from the State Senators concludes with this request:

“For the sake of the most vulnerable Iowans and their health care providers, we are asking you to reject this unwise and poorly developed plan.”

Letter asking President Obama and CMS to reject Branstad’s Medicaid privatization Jan 27 2016



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